Hints of gold led to the discovery of a rich silver deposit in southern Guatemala six years ago. Now, Tahoe Resources, stacked with a team of veterans experienced in the region, is hard at work turning that prospect into a producer – one that promises to boost the small country up among the world’s major silver jurisdictions.
Guatemala’s current silver production is not much to look at: The Silver Institute’s 2010 statistics rank the country’s 6.3 million ounces of output as the world’s 17th largest, below Sweden, Indonesia and India. But this is set to change in 2014, when the Escobal project is expected to enter commercial production.
Escobal started out as a greenfields discovery by Glamis Gold, back in 2006. Brian Brodsky, Glamis’ then-exploration manager and now vice-president of exploration at Tahoe, was instrumental in the original discovery.
“Our initial sampling program identified highly anomalous gold at the surface,” he says. “The project did not have a single drillhole or any advanced exploration to speak of.” Glamis’ explorers soon realized that the surface gold anomalies found at the site were just that, but they kept running into silver veins as the drilling went on.
“We really didn’t work our way into the silver-rich portion of the deposit until about the 15th hole, and we really didn’t accept the fact that silver would be the primary contributor to the project until around hole 40 or 50, when we started seeing remarkable continuity of veining and the dramatic width and grade of silver mineralization,” explains Brodsky.
In late 2006, Glamis and all its properties were acquired by Goldcorp, with Brodsky retaining the same position and Glamis’ CEO Kevin McArthur becoming CEO of Goldcorp. He retired at the end of 2008, only to discover that taking the CEO out of mining was easier than taking mining out of the CEO.
“I found out that I wasn’t going to become a professional golfer, so I formed a private company and started looking for assets to develop,” McArthur says.